Gut to studs? Drywall question

38 Replies

Hi there, I am in a process of renovation of a house. The house is quite old, and has smell in it. The previous owner had pets. I will be changing plywood floor here and there. But I am more concerned about the drywall. I have popcorn ceiling everywhere and the drywall was covered with some kind of strange wood. I took the wood off already and the drywall is in a good shape. I wonder if I should or should not gut it to studs. I might be able to recover several rooms, but I am not sure about the smell and about the cost to finish this drywall. I would like to have level 5 finish, but the drywall was just taped and nothing more. Wouldn't it be cheaper just to take everything down and hang a new drywall?

How old is the house?  If it is an older house, you may have asbestos in the drywall mud or the popcorn ceiling.  Also once you go to the studs, any deficiencies with electrical or plumbing will need to be dealt with.

Ceiling shouldn't have a smell unless they were smoking or from water damage. Can you not just scrape the popcorn ceiling off then repaint?

Drywall is not inexpensive. Home Depot will charge you something like $11 for a 4'x8' sheet of 1/2" drywall. You'll pay around $6 to hand, mud and tape. So you are at $17 for 32/SF or $0.53/SF. A room that is 10'x12' (a typical bedroom, for example) will be 1,642 SF. So figure $800. For one bedroom.

If you are doing permits you'll need to bring the plumbing, electrical and insulation up to code.

Probably easier to sand it down, skim it and move on. 

If it is a rental then this is an especially easy question.

Originally posted by @Seth Borman :

Drywall is not inexpensive. Home Depot will charge you something like $11 for a 4'x8' sheet of 1/2" drywall. You'll pay around $6 to hand, mud and tape. So you are at $17 for 32/SF or $0.53/SF. A room that is 10'x12' (a typical bedroom, for example) will be 1,642 SF. So figure $800. For one bedroom.

If you are doing permits you'll need to bring the plumbing, electrical and insulation up to code.

Probably easier to sand it down, skim it and move on. 

If it is a rental then this is an especially easy question.

I am not sure I understand, the prices I had a quote were 40-50 per sheet labor incl materials (is it too high?). Here is how I calculate the room in your example: 

(10+12)*2*8+12*10=472 sq ft to cover in total

which is about 

14.75 sheets

in any case, do you think it is better to stick with old drywall? I have aluminum wire which I should rewire, it makes sense to open up the walls. what is your experience with city, can they delay the project a lot?

The smell is from the pet urine on the floor. There are chemicals that you can spray on them to eliminate this or replace the stained subfloor plywood. The drywall is not the problem unless cats sprayed urine on the walls. In that case, I would remove only the bottom 4 feet from the floor and replace with new. The popcorn ceiling can be removed by wetting the ceiling and scraping it off. Otherwise, I would mud over the existing tape and sand it smooth. Once you prime the drywall, and replace urine soaked flooring, you should not smell the odor anymore. I hope you got a great deal on this.

@Sophie Maisel I would not re-wire the house based on aluminum wiring. There are millions of homes in America with aluminum wiring. If they haven't burned in 50 years, they are probably OK. I would make sure the original outlets and switches are replaced with new ones. All connections need to be tight. I own several houses with aluminum wiring. 

Originally posted by @Anthony Dooley :

The smell is from the pet urine on the floor. There are chemicals that you can spray on them to eliminate this or replace the stained subfloor plywood. The drywall is not the problem unless cats sprayed urine on the walls. In that case, I would remove only the bottom 4 feet from the floor and replace with new. The popcorn ceiling can be removed by wetting the ceiling and scraping it off. Otherwise, I would mud over the existing tape and sand it smooth. Once you prime the drywall, and replace urine soaked flooring, you should not smell the odor anymore. I hope you got a great deal on this.

Anthony, thanks for the reply. The thing is ARV will be quite high starting from 800k and going up to 1.1mil depending on my luck. I did get it cheap, but I don't want to open a can with warms and city inspectors. They seem to delay the project. On the other hand, I need to rewire it for sure as it has aluminum wire. I am lost with what course of action should I take.

Originally posted by @Anthony Dooley :

@Sophie Maisel I would not re-wire the house based on aluminum wiring. There are millions of homes in America with aluminum wiring. If they haven't burned in 50 years, they are probably OK. I would make sure the original outlets and switches are replaced with new ones. All connections need to be tight. I own several houses with aluminum wiring. 

 oh, now you say that I should keep the wire. Even in this price range?

@Seth Borman you are talking about CA pricing. In the rest of the world drywall installation is much less expensive. I had 4 apartment units done completely with new 1/2 dry wall, mud, tape sanded and ready to paint for $3000.

@Sophie Maisel Changing the wiring does not increase the ARV. A home inspector will look at the breaker box, but I have never seen one make note of what type of wiring a house has. They will check for proper grounding and GFI outlets, but aluminum wiring is not a deficiency. Where aluminum wiring becomes problematic is when new additions with copper wire is connected to the aluminum. But, if done correctly, not a hazard. Price range shouldn't matter as long as everything works and is wired correctly.

Originally posted by @Anthony Dooley :

@Sophie Maisel Changing the wiring does not increase the ARV. A home inspector will look at the breaker box, but I have never seen one make note of what type of wiring a house has. They will check for proper grounding and GFI outlets, but aluminum wiring is not a deficiency. Where aluminum wiring becomes problematic is when new additions with copper wire is connected to the aluminum. But, if done correctly, not a hazard. Price range shouldn't matter as long as everything works and is wired correctly.

 can I shoot you an email? I have a report from the inspector when I was purchasing, I would appreciate your feedback. 

@Sophie Maisel certainly. Unless aluminum wiring is illegal in TX, I don't see the problem since there are millions of homes in TX with aluminum wiring. 

Originally posted by @Sophie Maisel :
 Here is how I calculate the room in your example: 

(10+12)*2*8+12*10=472 sq ft to cover in total

which is about 

14.75 sheets

Your math is faulty. A 10x12 room has 352 sq ft of wall space, assuming it has no doors or windows. ;-)

2x(8x10) + 2x(8x12) = 352 = 11 sheets

Originally posted by @Sylvia B. :
Originally posted by @Sophie Maisel:
 Here is how I calculate the room in your example: 

(10+12)*2*8+12*10=472 sq ft to cover in total

which is about 

14.75 sheets

Your math is faulty. A 10x12 room has 352 sq ft of wall space, assuming it has no doors or windows. ;-)

2x(8x10) + 2x(8x12) = 352 = 11 sheets

where is the mistake? I take a perimeter of the room, which is (12+10)*2 then I multiply it by the height, which is 8 feet. Then I add the ceiling area to it which is 12*10. I think in your calculation you've missed the ceiling, no?

I would try spraying kilz primer first before I tore out Sheetrock just for a smell. The kilz should seal it in. Don’t use the water based stuff. 

Originally posted by @Sophie Maisel :
Originally posted by @Seth Borman:

Drywall is not inexpensive. Home Depot will charge you something like $11 for a 4'x8' sheet of 1/2" drywall. You'll pay around $6 to hand, mud and tape. So you are at $17 for 32/SF or $0.53/SF. A room that is 10'x12' (a typical bedroom, for example) will be 1,642 SF. So figure $800. For one bedroom.

If you are doing permits you'll need to bring the plumbing, electrical and insulation up to code.

Probably easier to sand it down, skim it and move on. 

If it is a rental then this is an especially easy question.

I am not sure I understand, the prices I had a quote were 40-50 per sheet labor incl materials (is it too high?). Here is how I calculate the room in your example: 

(10+12)*2*8+12*10=472 sq ft to cover in total

which is about 

14.75 sheets

in any case, do you think it is better to stick with old drywall? I have aluminum wire which I should rewire, it makes sense to open up the walls. what is your experience with city, can they delay the project a lot?

 Hah, yeah, I fat fingered the 8 when I meant to hit *. That added an order of magnitude to the math.

Same idea, though.

No idea about Austin but here in LA permits make everything really hard. Most people wouldn't pull them for something like this unless they got caught.

@sophie maisel, speaking as a regular consumer i don't think it would be a bad thing to get rid of the aluminum wiring.  I have bought a house with it before and it's a pain.  We did actually overheat the wires with a portable ac unit.  Luckily we figured it out and didn't burn down the house. I would never buy a personal house with aluminium wiring  again. 

That being said,  we bought the house knowing it had aluminum wiring and then sold it with no  issues with it still having about half aluminium. Prior to us there were renters in the house and they also did not burn the house down.

So,  while most people won't know the difference,  a few out there might rule out purchasing  your house based on the wiring.   

@Sophie Maisel  yes if you want to achieve a level five finish you definitely need to take it down to the studs and string it out to make sure the walls and ceilings are plumb.

Level five will definitely run you $40-$50 a board turkey depending on the height and type of your ceiling’s etc. That’s pretty standard in most areas of the country for a level five finish. Most people don’t even know what that is or how to achieve it.

@Tiffany Roberts If you are taking it down the studs, then i would re-wire it. As an electrician by trade, I would charge far less if the house was gutted than if there was existing drywall. Soooo much easier to work on a gutted house.

Originally posted by @Sophie Maisel :
Originally posted by @Sylvia B.:
Originally posted by @Sophie Maisel:
 Here is how I calculate the room in your example: 

(10+12)*2*8+12*10=472 sq ft to cover in total

which is about 

14.75 sheets

Your math is faulty. A 10x12 room has 352 sq ft of wall space, assuming it has no doors or windows. ;-)

2x(8x10) + 2x(8x12) = 352 = 11 sheets

where is the mistake? I take a perimeter of the room, which is (12+10)*2 then I multiply it by the height, which is 8 feet. Then I add the ceiling area to it which is 12*10. I think in your calculation you've missed the ceiling, no?

 Ah, yes. I didn't realize you were replacing the ceiling too. Something to consider if you do - insulation. Tear down your ceiling and the insulation comes with it. Not a big deal if you were replacing it anyway, I suppose.

@Craig Jeppesen

Yes, I am willing to admit I made this mistake, repaired walls and repainted without the Kilz treatment. Big mistake I will need to fix after some tenant some day. It was big pets and big smokers same house.

My lesson Learned..., don’t paint till it’s clean and smells are totally gone.

Good luck!

Hey @Sophie Maisel ,

If it were up to me the numbers would really make the decision. If the smell is understood that it needs to be removed, and parts of the drywall needs to be removed that that is non negotiable. The floors and lower parts of the walls normally hold the source of smells so you could just replace 1/3 of the drywall in the rooms and fix up the floors for the smell. In regards to the full drywall removal, you will almost guaranteed find issues with your systems to some extent, outdated or broken etc. IF you have it in your budget to handle that than go for it ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE GOING TO HOLD IT LONG TERM. IF it is a flip ehhhh morally you probably should do the upgrades or, more of the profit side of this coin, at least upgrade to pieces that have high contact (laundry, bathrooms, kitchens). 

If your numbers are too close just go high contact areas and minimize potential expense and do what is non negotiable.

I hope that helps a little bit.

@Sophie Maisel I would keep as much of the drywall and other items that are in good condition as possible. I over rehabbed a house and slightly regret some changes. But hey, live and learn.

@Sophie Maisel You should speak to a couple of electricians about the wiring. Some electricians may say to pigtail it which is common but that is really an electrician question. I would tell the electrician what you are planning to do. The electrician may have some good ideas.  In regards to redoing the drywall. Why? Is it due to the smell? Kilz it first to see. That could save you a ton of money if the kilz works. You may want to bring an expert painter through the house just to be sure. If you redo the wiring then you will need to pull permits. The city of Austin will slow the process down. I would suggest hiring a permit expediter to speed up the process. My two cents. 

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